Data interpretation/use for decision-making is every social and behavior change communication practitioner’s responsibility and not just a role for Monitoring and Evaluation officers.
This was the key message at the 4th Springboard learning forum held in Kampala, Uganda, on July 9, 2015, under the theme “Use of Data in Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) Programming.”
Presenting data on malaria prevalence in Uganda and the current outbreak in the Northern district, Dr. Henry Katamba – Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist from the Ministry of Health – emphasized that it is high time SBCC is integrated into projects right from the proposal stage, instead of considering it as an afterthought.
Katamba amused participants when he said every time he asks people about where and how communication will support the project activities, many say “It’s everywhere in there,” yet they can’t point it out.
“Data must be valid – and timely – to be useful,” noted Henry, adding “the usefulness of data can only be enhanced by good data collection systems and staff capacity strengthening.”
Sharing the experience of the Community Connector (CC) project that is designed along the Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) approach, Benjamin Aisya, the Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning Manager mentioned that effective data use in decision-making requires that we also look beyond the specific data itself and into contexts for holistic program response and/or adaptation.
“Data that is useful in decision-making must not only be formed by technical experts’ opinion but incorporate the opinion of lay communities as well,” he said. The CLA is a framework to help implementers become more knowledge-driven and responsive to the evolving root challenges that projects face in achieving development objectives.
This forum was attended by over 60 participants and is the fourth in a series of forums jointly organized by AfriComNet and Communication for Healthy Communities project as part of the in-country Springboard efforts to foster learning and networking among the health and development communication community.